I will be very honest and say I only decided to review Mermaid’s Song because it meant I could see it for free. I had no prior knowledge of this movie before Tuesday, but you never turn down free. Unfortunately, I forgot there truly is no such thing as a free lunch because I paid for the movie with wasted time and boredom.
There are two rules that budget films released on-demand should probably know by now. First, don’t do a period piece, even a Depression-era one taking place entirely on a wheat farm. Second, avoid CGI as much as possible, especially a monster movie that relies on it. For some strange reason, Mermaid’s Song decided two bad decisions would cancel out, which of course they don’t.
Director: Nicholas Humphries
Release: September 18, 2018 (VOD)
Plot wise, nothing makes sense as George and his daughters operate a speakeasy on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Somehow existing for more than a weekend, money troubles from the Depression (we know it’s the Depression because the entire movie has After Effects sepia filter placed over it) force them to work with what I only assume is Iowa’s top corn gangster Randall (played by GoT alum Iwan Rhenon).
As he extorts the place and turns it into a brothel with the help of spineless George, the youngest daughter, Charlotte, is going through some strange changes because she’s the mermaid that may help her save the brothel (yay?) or doom her family (yay!). It’s basically The Thirteenth Year but gender-swapped and much worse special effects.
The acting sucks, but not even in a fun way. Everyone has a different accent, one southern, one English, one a little valley girl, and the emotional range usually falls between cardboard and wet cardboard. Rheon’s Randall is the one alright performance because he’s at least got an ulterior motive, but he’s in three scenes as a whole despite getting top billing.
No, unfortunately, the focus is on Charlotte (Katelyn Mager), who is tepid and monotone. It’s truly not her fault though as she does brighten up and become stronger a bit near the end as the puberty metaphor finishes; it’s the script’s fault, which is full of cliches and things the writers think people used to say in the 1930s. This is back-of-the-napkin script scenario.
Worst of all, I couldn’t even ignore the train-wreck that is the story because the monster appears in literally two scenes. Two! Each of them only lasts about 50 seconds too, which is actually a shame because the monster ain’t half bad looking. A little plain yes, but the pale lifeless face, nice slithery parts, and weird wing fin thingies make it distinct enough that if it actually had something to do, the movie could’ve improved to mediocre. Honestly, with the clear budget restriction they had, the producers should have just had the mermaid be a serial killer hopping around in a mermaid suit.
There’s not much to wrap up or reiterate with this review. The story’s bad, the acting’s bad largely because of a very bad script, and the monster, the entire point of the movie and advertising focal point, appears for less time than it takes to microwave a bag of popcorn. This definitely wasn’t worth the joke about the Dark Universe coming back.